WFMW: Friendship on Purpose

Friendship on Purpose at (in)courage

Sometimes friendship is hard.

I’m kidding. Anytime friendship involves humans, it’s hard! Or maybe “hard” isn’t the right word, but it takes work. It takes commitment and forgiveness and so much grace. It takes the decision to be the friend you’d like to have, and it takes a whole lot of being intentional.

As many of you know, I write for (in)courage, a virtual beach house for the hearts of women. And I am super excited about something (in)courage has coming up in a couple weeks. When you sign up for “10 Tips to be the Friend You Wish You Had,” you’ll receive two practical, encouraging friendship tips in your inbox for five days in April – along with free gifts, coupon codes and sneak peeks at new DaySpring products!

I really love the way this series is designed. The writers are sharing “me, too” stories, not “how to” tips – straight from the heart and exclusive for your inbox.

Learning to be a better friend – and friendship on purpose – works for me. If it works for you, too, sign up at (in)courage today!

Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

WFMW: Hearing Your Voice

Works for Me Wednesday

Dear friends who don’t live close enough to me:

I miss you. I’m still protesting the fact that you moved away/didn’t move closer in the first place. But you know that.

What you might not know is that I have a solution. Sadly, it’s not a cul-de-sac for us to all live on or an apartment building where we all live above our means, mainly because we spend more time in the coffee shop downstairs than actually working. But if you know of a situation like that, let me know. Maybe we can work on that next.

No, my solution requires less packing and absolutely no need to find a new grocery store or gas station. The solution to me missing you every day of my life? VOXER.

Voxer is a free app – and you should TOTALLY GET IT.

Why? Why do you need another app? So you can hear my voice, that’s why! But wait – there’s more and it’s not a fancy knife! You can hear my voice BUT don’t have to talk to me right now!

Voxer is like a walkie-talkie app. Kind of. You leave voice mails (without using your minutes) for people. They can listen to them whenever they want – and then respond whenever they want. If you talk slow or too long (I DON’T KNOW ANYONE LIKE THIS), they can hit fast forward until you sound like the chipmunk version of you.

You can also send text messages (again, without using your text minutes) or photos. And you can create groups and have Voxer group conversations.

So the next time you hear a song or see a video that makes you think of me? (This happens, right? … Right?) You can push that Voxer app button and let me know. And the next time I wonder what you think of last night’s episode of New Girl or the devotion I read this morning? I can leave you a voice message asking.

Way easier than typing a whole long message (and safer when you’re driving, ahem!). And way more personal than another text or Facebook message or email (because we might be old). NOT that I don’t love those things, too. But hearing your voice? Having a real, real-life conversation {without actually talking on the phone because who likes to do THAT anymore?}?

That is priceless and it works for me. So, friends who used to live near me and now don’t live near me? Get Voxer, will you? (Please?)

Dear Lisa-Jo: You were right. Voxer is the best. The end.

Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

Photo source

What if You Were the Mean Girl?

I wish today’s post was about that time I got made fun of for being too nice. But it’s not. Today’s post is about that time I was a mean girl.

A few years ago I wrote about frenemies and how I spent a lot of time in sixth grade trying to get and stay in good graces with the four popular girls in my class. I wrote about the day all four of those girls handed me hate notes and broke my adolescent heart. The main reason I wrote about that was to share about how I’d neglected a good friend in my pursuit of popularity.

But when a friend of mine – one of those popular girls I’d written about – found my blog (and that post) several months later, she focused on the hate note part of the post. She was appalled and apologetic – and admitted that she didn’t remember the incident at all.

I felt about two inches tall when I received her email – and wished so badly that I’d never written about the whole thing. It had hurt me, but nearly two decades later, I was obviously over it. To me, it was just a story. Granted, one that affected me deeply at the time and shaped me, but I hadn’t been upset about it in a very, very long time.

Three of those four girls became my true friends later on in high school, and I never thought about how they’d feel if they read my interpretation of that morning in middle school.

If only that were the end of the story. If only that blog post that maybe shouldn’t have been written were my only mistake.

Almost a year after my friend emailed me and said she was so sorry (and didn’t remember it, but was so sorry anyway), she emailed me again. She had remembered.

It turns out that my memory wasn’t exactly complete, and she told me the rest of the story.

The day before the hate note delivery, I had teased my friend about hair on her legs – something we were both sensitive about. It hurt her feelings, and her friends joined her in putting me in my place the next day.

I knew she was telling me the truth, because I’m sarcastic and I tease people – and sometimes I go too far. (Sadly, I could tell you more stories than this one to back up that confession.)

I don’t remember that first exchange at all, and she didn’t remember (at first) the next day’s confrontation. Neither of us were what you’d traditionally consider mean girls – not at all. But both of us deeply hurt the other with our words anyway.

My friend and I so deeply regretted our parts in the whole thing! It’s likely we regretted them immediately, but certainly as adults (and long-time friends), we so wished we could take it all back.

But that’s the thing about words, isn’t it? We can’t take them back, no matter how nice we normally are or how much we didn’t mean them after all.

My friend Annie Downs has written a book about making our words matter – for good. And I’m giving away three copies today.

Speak Love: Making Your Words Matter is about the power of our words. The book’s description says:

Through very funny stories, Scripture, and a real understanding of the good, bad, and ugly ways we can use our words, Annie Downs explores the difference you can make when you speak love to others, to God, and even to yourself. Because when you speak love, you speak life. And that’s what matters.

Speak Love is written for teen and college-aged girls. But even though my teen years were a long time ago, I’m looking forward to reading my copy (and hoping it’s in the mail today!) before passing it on to a teenaged friend. Today I’m giving away Speak Love to three readers – and you might want to read it, too . . . before giving it to someone in the book’s “real” demographic, of course!

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment telling me about a time when your words mattered. The giveaway will close at midnight on Monday, August 26.

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt. This post contains affiliate links.

Getting Carded & Caring for My Friends

A few weeks ago one of my friends and I were chatting on Skype – like we do pretty much every day – and she said she felt like a bad friend.

I argued with her (LIKE A GOOD FRIEND), but she held her ground. She said she’d been thinking about how rarely she takes time to show her friends that she cares about them. So for the rest of the night, off and on, we brainstormed ideas for remedying the situation.

(Side note: “remedying”? Is that a word? I DON’T KNOW.)

Anyway, I suggested that she pick one day a week to do something nice for a friend. Just one thing for one friend one day a week. Easy enough, right?

But then I started thinking about how often I go out of my way to show my friends that I care about them. After all, I certainly don’t make it a point to reach out to a friend once a week. Maybe I’m not a good friend either!

I decided that I’m not a terrible friend, but while I make a point to get together with friends on a fairly regular basis, I don’t take time to connect with individual friends and tell them I love them. Girls night out? Done. Dropping a note in the mail to a friend who’s having a bad week? Well . . . notsomuch.

So what do I do about this? I can’t keep neglecting my friends. I love doing nice things, and I love my friends. I need to remedy this situation.

(YES. THAT is the right way to use that word.)

Enter Hallmark Cards.

Hallmark is hosting a Get Carded Challenge, a fun way for people to connect with seven loved ones in seven days – with a greeting card, of course.

This week – in between packing for a trip out of town and installing a thousand programs on my new laptop (woohoo!) – I’m sending cards to several friends to let them know I’m thinking of them, missing them, loving them and feeling thankful for their friendship.

Would you like to “Get Carded”? I’m giving away a 10-card pack of Hallmark greeting cards so you can tell your friends and family that you care about them, too. (You can also use the code BLOG30 at Hallmark.com for 30% off cards through the end of the year! Sweet!)

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment telling me either who you’d like to send a card to or how you show your friends you care about them. The giveaway will end at midnight CST on Friday, March 22.

Help me help you

The other day I got a text message from a friend. She needed someone to watch her daughter later that day for a couple hours, and she wondered if I could help her out.

I was so excited to get that message – and to say yes.

Was I excited because I love babysitting – or even my friend’s daughter in particular? Well, not really (although her daughter is a complete doll and super easy to watch for an evening). I was excited that someone was asking me for help, and I could help her. That simple.

Nobody likes to ask for help, right? It’s awkward and we feel needy and nobody wants to be a burden. But sometimes, well, sometimes we need help.

As I was thinking about this, I realized that in general I tend to make friends with women like me. Many of my friends are type A, organized, got it together [or at least look like they do] women. And as a rule, women like that (women like me) don’t like to ask for help.

We don’t want to bother anyone.
We don’t want to be “the needy friend.”
We don’t want to admit we can’t do it all.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe my friends will leave me comments or send me emails telling me that they DO, in fact, have it all together all the time. But I don’t think so.

Since my husband has been working nights, I’ve been forced to ask for help several times. And every time, it feels awful. Partly because of the reasons I mentioned earlier – I don’t want to be a bother or appear so needy – but also because my friends don’t seem to ever need MY help in return.

I’m not saying that I feel like I owe my friends something if they help me. I know the women I call friends don’t keep score that way! But I honestly enjoy helping people I care about and am always thankful for the chance to do so. Helping a friend blesses me just as much as being helped by a friend.

Have your friends ever said things like, “If you ever need someone to watch your kids, let me know!” “Can I help?” “What can I do?” or “Let me know how I can help.” If you have friends who say things like that, thank God – and then take them up on those offers. Bless your friends by letting them help you!

By building walls and wearing masks and refusing to admit we need help, much less ask for or accept it, we’re shortchanging ourselves and our friends. We’re trading authentic friendship and rich relationships for smoke and mirrors and false pretenses of perfection.

Let’s not do that.

Let’s ask for help when we need it and accept help when it’s offered. And, of course, let’s help each other when our friends are brave enough to ask.

When was the last time you had to ask for help?

This post is part of 31 Days of Giving Up on Perfect, because helping each other is way better than looking perfect and standing alone. All month long, I’ll be writing about my fight against perfectionism and my quest to get on with life, already. For more 31 Days, visit The Nester.